Responsible Conduct of Research

For 2010-2011, two new initiatives will be emphasized as part of MSU's plan to promote Research and Scholarly Integrity:
  • The Research Integrity Council under the leadership of Stephanie Watts, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, has developed posters under the general theme, Research Integrity Matters. Copies of these posters have been distributed to the over 125 graduate programs at MSU and incorporate simple messages in emphasizing both informal and formal education and discussions about eight key principles and mentoring.
  • The National Science Foundation now requires a written plan for mentoring of postdoctoral researchers and will soon require training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers.

A key component of MSU’s plan to promote the responsible conduct of research, the Offices of the Provost, the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies and the Dean of the Graduate School join together to offer a series of workshops to be presented throughout the academic year. This series is intended to provide specific information about the responsibilities of students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and staff in proposing, conducting, and reporting on research, scholarship, and creative activities. It is designed to stimulate discussions, complement department activities, reinforce issues highlighted in the Research Integrity Newsletter, and promote a common understanding of integrity and responsible conduct across disciplines while allowing for the application of differences in professional standards.
Attendance at this full series will be recognized with a certificate of completion, but attendance may be over several years. The series is intended to complement other training offered by MSU to comply with requirements for formal training before working on research funded by the Public Health Service, the National Science Foundation, and others. The workshops will be expanded and adapted as appropriate from one year to the next to respond to current issues and needs.
Schedule of Presentations
Brochure (updated 11/11/10)

Personal Responsibility in Conducting Research & Advancing Your Career
Thursday, January 13, 2011
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Room 103 Erickson Hall (the Kiva)
Responsibility to the Subject of Research: Humans
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Room 103 Erickson Hall (the Kiva)
Responsibility to the Subject of Research: Animals
Thursday, January 20, 2011
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Room 103 Erickson Hall (the Kiva)
Objectivity & Conflicting Interests in Academic Research
Thursday, February 17, 2011
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Room 103 Erickson Hall (the Kiva)
Why We Offer This Series
Colleges and Universities are made up of recognized scholars and junior scholars (students, trainees, and postdoctoral researchers) who coexist in a rich but competitive environment for the common purpose of learning, creating new knowledge, developing new insights through synthesis of existing knowledge and disseminating information and ideas for the benefit of their peers and the general public. Academic excellence comes through recognition by one's peers. Some new and innovative ideas have the potential for generating widespread professional interest and credit in the area of their scholarship for purely academic reasons. Others have the potential for generating substantial commercial interest and financial gain. Either can be motivation to stretch and even exceed acceptable standards of conduct in how scholarship is conducted. At the same time, differing academic and personal perspectives and interests can lead to interpersonal conflicts that detract from achieving common goals. Collectively, these challenges are integral to the broader paradigm of professional responsibility to one's students, senior advisors, peers, and institutions.
Responsible Conduct of Research became a public policy issue in the early 1980s with the disclosure of cases of misconduct at four major research centers (The Office of Research Integrity - History). This issue has evolved since then and is now recognized as being of national importance. Case reports and discussions have been expanded to include a range of issues from questionable practices up to and including misconduct – falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism (see MSU’s policy). A study funded by the NIH (B.C. Martinson, M.S. Anderson and R. de Vries. 2005. Scientists Behaving Badly. Nature 435(9):737-738.) reported on an anonymous survey of behaviors considered as questionable. Taken as a whole, one in three responding scientists acknowledged they "had engaged in at least one of the top ten behaviors during the previous three years." Overall, this proportion was statistically higher for mid-career than for early career respondents.
A university-wide task force provided recommendations in late 2003 concerning Research Mentoring that were unanimously endorsed by the University Graduate Council along with an additional four recommendations that were later approved by the Faculty Council. The full report of the Task Force was presented in the Spring 2004 issue of the Research Integrity Newsletter. One of the recommendations of the Task Force is that each graduate degree-granting unit be required to revise their graduate handbooks, incorporating specific "Guidelines for Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Relationships" and "Guidelines for Integrity in Research and Creative Activities." Implementing these recommended guidelines remains a priority.
This series responds to graduate student and postdoctoral requests for more information and discussion of ethics and responsible conduct as it impacts on research and scholarship. It will emphasize ethical analysis and problem-solving along with summaries of specific requirements that apply to all. The goal is to insure that students and postdoctoral researchers are informed to protect their personal educational and career development interests that can easily be harmed through irresponsible acts and to support their effectiveness in collaborating with more senior researchers / scholars.
Rooms open and check-in begins 30 minutes before the presentation. All sessions are held in Room 103 (the Kiva) of Erickson Hall. All sessions are free to MSU faculty, postdoctoral researchers, staff, and students.
Registration is necessary for all workshops!
Register by email:; Please include: your name, department, e-mail address, and the names of the session(s) you wish to attend.
New for 2010-11, registration preference will be given to graduate students and postdocs from departments who regularly attend the RCR series in the past ten years (list of departments). Additionally, preference will also be given to students and post-docs funded by NSF grants.
For those students/postdocs funded by NSF, please include the following additional information: the title of grant, faculty PI, and MSU CGA grant number.
You may register for the entire series (recommended) or for an individual session. The deadline for registering for a session is one week before the session.
Persons with disabilities should contact the Graduate School at 517-353-3231 to request arrangements no later than one week prior to the session date. Requests received after this date will be met when possible.
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